Despite the rain outside, it was cheerful inside W.T. Cooke Elementary School on Spring Picture Day. Girls wearing swirly skirts and sparkly headbands and boys in button-down shirts with freshly-combed hair were all smiles on their way to the second floor. Kelly Lambroff had an equally-bright smile to share with each student who walked by on the way to class.
Lambroff is no stranger to the students. They see her every morning at the “school store” cart she tends to daily for the PTA. Her dedication to this service is one of the many reasons for her selection as Cooke’s 2015 Volunteer of the Year.
From pockets, backpacks and plastic Ziploc bags students retrieve dollar bills and change to make a purchase from the store. Some count the money themselves, and Lambroff gladly helps a few, turning it into a teachable moment. It is obvious that Lambroff, mother of two Cooke students, has helped with money counting in her own house, as she patiently waits for students to count and sort change in her open palm.
With a smile, she encourages students to head to class so they don’t miss their morning work. They can return tomorrow if they’d like. Lambroff will be there as she always is.
Not unlike most school volunteers, Lambroff prefers to work behind the scenes without any extra attention. She humbly explained why she has made the commitment to be at Cooke every morning to run the school store.
“I think it’s a privilege to be able to do it,” she said. “I am a stay-at-home mom so I feel like it’s also my responsibility to help out at the school.”
Lambroff’s efforts also help former Cooke students. Proceeds from store support the Cooke PTA’s annual scholarships for college-bound high school students for whom Cooke is their elementary alma mater.
The school store is only one of Lambroff’s contributions. In her five years as a Cooke parent, Lambroff has also enjoyed volunteering her time as a reading buddy in first grade classrooms and in other schoolwide literacy programs. “Mrs. Lambroff was so effective with the reading program the students always asked when it was her day so they could read with her,” noted first-grade teacher Barbara Taliaferro.
Second-grade teacher Jill Belch has also observed and benefited from Lambroff’s volunteer service.
“Kelly has always been a person I can count on to help out,” Belch shared. “She has played an important role in assisting with school fundraising, volunteering items for staff luncheons and participating in schoolwide events. She understands the value of giving back to the community and we are so blessed to have her at W.T. Cooke Elementary. Her dedication to the Cooke community is immeasurable; she is an asset to our school.”
Cooke PTA president Kevin Gardiner describes Lambroff as a “stalwart” for the PTA. He wrote that Lambroff is “helping out at PTA events, coordinating various PTA endeavors, serving as school store coordinator and always there to step up when needed most.”
Also grateful for Lambroff’s willingness to step up is Cooke principal Pam Bennis. Bennis shares that Lambroff volunteered this year to maintain a very large display case in the school’s main hallway. On day of spring pictures, the display showcased the school’s upcoming variety show. Once that special event passes, Lambroff will update the display with a seasonal message or feature another school event.
To other potential school volunteers, Lambroff’s message is simple.
“I think any amount of time is helpful,” she says. “I think it makes a huge difference in the lives of kids. It makes a huge difference, not only to my kids, but to other kids, and it’s nice to help out the teachers. I just think it’s a small way to kind of make a big difference.”
To find ways you can get involved, visit the division’s Get Connected page at vbschools.com/getconnected and find volunteer opportunities available in VBCPS schools. For more information about the Volunteers in Education program as a whole, visit the page to learn more about the service of VBCPS volunteers.